Wagons have been fighting a losing battle for years now – much like their arch-nemesis, the minivan. This is hardly a secret since we’re all well aware of the fact that crossovers and SUVs are the go-to people and cargo haulers nowadays. Not only did the number of wagons available on the market shrink, but so did their overall sales and market share. And drastically at that. With that in mind, forthcoming 2021 wagons have their work cut out for them.
Only around 212,000 wagons had found their new home in the U.S. throughout 2018. Although that’s an increase of almost 30 percent compared to 2013, the bigger picture is somewhat different. Back in 2013, station wagons constituted 1.9 percent of the entire U.S. car market, while that figure has dropped to 1.4 percent in 2018. In other words, this rather significant growth in sales is only fictitious since the new cars market in the U.S. grew at a much higher pace in these past five years than the wagons market.
For comparison, compact crossovers and SUVs have achieved a growth of 75 percent during the same period and they already had a much higher market share to begin with. Compact executive cars have exhibited a similar growth of 71 percent, while the mid-size pickup trucks’ sales have gone up by 60 percent.
Let’s now take a look at some of the best wagons 2021 will have to offer, or rather what’s left of the once-proud station wagon segment in the U.S.
06. 2021 Subaru Outback
The all-new sixth-generation Subaru Outback has just recently been revealed at the 2019 New York auto show and later on entered the market as a 2020 model. Needless to say, the Japanese won’t exactly have a lot to change for MY 2021 and the 2021 Subaru Outback will be basically carried over.
The sixth-gen Outback doesn’t stray too far away from the well-trodden path as far as wagons with a little bit of extra clearance are concerned. Design-wise, the new model is an evolution of the fifth-gen model’s styling with slightly different front and rear fascias, and barely any different profiles. The new models do get new wheel designs and plastic cladding around wheel arches.
As far as the interior goes, changes are somewhat more substantial, but the new Outback retains the same steering wheel and very similar materials as its predecessor. It also gets a new portrait-oriented 11.6-inch touchscreen display. In fact, it boasts practically the same interior as the Legacy sedan upon which it’s based. For added practicality though, the Outback does get a hands-free power liftgate around the back. And it also boasts class-leading cargo space figures with 73.3 cubes with rear seats tucked away.
There are two engines to choose from. Most Outbacks will be ordered with a capable and well-known 185-horsepower 2.5L flat-four engine paired with a CVT gearbox. The range-topping XT models (Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring trims) benefit from a more powerful 2.4L turbocharged horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder. It generates 260 ponies and also pairs to a CVT transmission. Needless to say, the all-wheel drive is mandatory across the board.
The Subaru Outback has always been one of the most capable, reliable, and practical wagons out there and it’s no different with the new models. They start from around $26,500 before delivery fees and work their way up to around $40,000 before additional extras.
05. 2021 Volvo V60 and V60 Cross Country
The smaller of two currently available Volvo wagons on the U.S. market was fully redesigned in early 2018 and entered the market as a 2019-year model. What’s more, its Cross Country sibling with additional ground clearance was officially unveiled during the second half of 2019 hence changes in the next couple of years will be kept to a minimum.
The second-generation Volvo V60 follows the company’s latest design language to the letter but a long, sloping roofline is still reminiscing of the past years when Volvo was usually associated with sturdy and capable boxy wagons. Apart from adding three inches of ground clearance over the base V60 (fora a total of 8.3 inches), the V60 Cross Country also boasts a slightly sturdier exterior thanks to plastic cladding along the wheel arches. Other than that, the two are practically one and the same.
Inside, both cars exhibit a well-appointed cabin with plenty of soft high-quality materials all around. More importantly, their tech features are as abundant as ever despite the fact the Swedes like to take a minimalist approach when it comes to interior arrangements. Parking sensors, a 360-degree camera, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking are all standard from the get-go. In addition, both models offer up to 50.9 cubic feet of cargo space with rear seats folded down.
Power comes in three tiers known as T5, T6, and T8. All three powertrains are based around a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder mill paired with the Aisin 8-speed automatic transmission. The T5-branded engine makes 250 horsepower and comes exclusively in front-wheel drive guise. The T6 employs an additional blower for a total of 316 ponies. It’s also offered with all-wheel drive. Finally, the Polestar-tuned T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain improves on the latter by adding two electric motors for a combined output of 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque.
Prices start from just under $40,000 for the entry-level Volvo V6 and just north of $45,000 for the base V60 Cross Country T6 models. However, the range-topping T8 eAWD models start out from around $60,000, and additional equipment will only make them more expensive.
04. 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E63
Prior to Audi RS6 Avant’s return to the U.S. market (we’ll get to that later), the range-topping AMG-tuned E Class wagon served as the only real choice for performance luxury station wagon shoppers. The facelifted E Class wagon will remain the most powerful vehicle in its class, but at least it’s not the only one anymore.
The forthcoming redesigned E Class wagons retain most of the outgoing model’s cues but do offer revised frontal and rear fascias. Headlights will resemble those in the GLE SUV for further differentiation between the more refined E Class and entry-level C Class lineups. Other than that, however, the vast majority of wagon’s cues will simply remain the basis for all future units prior to the sixth-generation model’s arrival.
Inside, the new range-topping AMG-tuned E Class wagon is about to receive the all-new MBUX infotainment system which has started replacing the outgoing COMAND system all across the Mercedes-Benz board while simultaneously adding a digital AI assistant into the mix. Other than that, the facelifted AMG E63 will stick to the proven formula of leather and carbon fiber fusion for the ultimate luxury and sporty feel alike.
As before, the motivating factor behind the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 will be a powerful 4.0L twin-turbo V8 unit. Paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid setup, the reworked engine will be able to raise more than 603 ponies the outgoing models currently make. It might even end up making more than 630 horsepower which it develops in the AMG GT 63 S 4-door coupe.
The redesigned Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 will arrive in 2020 as a 2021 model with prices starting from around $110,000 which is more or less on par with the outgoing model’s price tag. Regardless of the outcome, the AMG E63 is one of the best and most powerful wagons 2021 will have to offer.
03. 2021 Jaguar XF Sportbrake
The intermediate luxury car from Jaguar hasn’t been properly updated in a while but all that’s about to change come MY 2021. Both the sedan and station wagon variations are in for a number of cosmetic upgrades, but overall, the XF for MY 2021 won’t stray too far from what’s an already established design based on the aluminum-rich body.
The 2021 Jaguar XF Sportbrake wagon will receive a similar treatment to that already seen in the new XE range. Both frontal and rear fascias will be revised, together with all the pieces constituting them. Other than that and more angular lines across the body, however, don’t expect too many radical changes.
The Interior will receive the I-Pace’s touch which constitutes a new steering wheel and a secondary screen for climate controls, at the root of the center stack. At the top, on the other hand, the facelifted XF is expected to boast a new 10.2-inch unit for improved infotainment experience. The quality of materials is expected to get even better as the XF Sportbrake aims to tackle the big players in its most potent and luxurious forms.
At the moment, the XF wagon can be obtained with either a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder good enough for 296 horsepower or a 3.0L supercharged V6 worthy of 380 ponies. However, the 2021 models will most likely kick the latter engine to the curb and instead employ the new 3.0L turbocharged inline-six mated to a mild-hybrid setup that significantly improves fuel economy while, at the same time providing 395 horsepower (15 ponies more).
The 2021 Jaguar XF wagon will reach dealerships sometime in 2020 with prices remaining in a similar region. In other words, the entry-level models with a four-banger should go for around $65,000 prior to extras and destination fees, while the more powerful units are expected to warrant some $7,000 atop of that.
02. 2021 Audi RS6 Avant
Arguably the most coveted wagon out of the U.S. public’s grasp is finally making its debut on these shores. The high-performance station wagon is more powerful and better than ever and is sure to provide stern opposition to all models in an already rapidly shrinking segment. Yet, just the fact Audi has decided to finally bring its most powerful wagon to the once densely wagon-populated country instills more than its share of confidence. Presented at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, the newest addition to the U.S. wagon offering is more than ready to shine.
Although it’s technically the A6 with a long roof, the RS6 Avant hides numerous unique features underneath. Even the visible bits such as unique 21-inch wheels (22’s are optional), dual oval exhaust tips, a more aggressive aero package, and flared wheel arches attest to the fact the RS6 Avant isn’t your run-of-the-mill Audi. An adaptive standard air suspension further proves that statement.
Inside, the RS6 Avant resembles its A6 sibling but provides up to 59 cubic feet of cargo space when required. Also, being the top-of-the-line model, it boasts plenty of standard convenience and safety gear including heated and ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, and more. Meanwhile, Nappa leather and Alcantara adorn most of the cabin, while brushed aluminum accents remind of RS6 Avant’s sporty nature.
Probably the most interesting piece of this meticulous station wagon sits underneath the hood, hidden from plain sight. A 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system cranks up as much as 591 ponies and 590 pound-feet of twist. All that power is sent to all four corners via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Despite weighing close to 4,750 pounds, the Avant still manages to gallop to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and to max out at 189 mph. However, you’ll need the optional Dynamic package to unlock its full potential.
The 2021 Audi RS6 Avant should reach the dealerships during mid-2020 with prices likely starting in a six-digit territory. Still, the four-ring brass is expected to keep it more affordable than the above mentioned Mercedes-Benz AMG E63. Irregardless of their exorbitant price tags, the dynamic duo will be some of the best 2021 wagons money can buy.
01. 2021 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
It’s probably good that the oddball Panamera comes in a wagon body style as well as in liftback sedan guise as the former manages to hide its polarizing design solutions in a much more subtle manner. Being introduced for MY 2017, the second-generation Panamera will go through a mid-cycle facelift in 2021.
However, the mid-term facelift won’t bring too many changes to Panamera’s exterior design. After all, Porsche’s barely change in complete overhauls, let alone through mid-term updates. The subtlest of facelifts will bring about a slightly revised front end and correspondingly changed rear with a new center strip tail-light design making a debut.
The Interior should see a slightly more substantial revision, but nothing radical is expected to come out of Porsche design’s kitchen. A revised infotainment system upon a redesigned dashboard and center stack, some shuffling among standard and optional features, and possibly new color arrangements are all we should expect. As far as its maximum cargo space goes, don’t expect more than 49 cubes with rear seats folded.
The Panamera in general offers a myriad of powertrain choices and the Sport Turismo wagons are no different. Starting with a 3.0L turbocharged V6, the entry-level Panamera develops 330 hp, while the Panamera S models squeeze 440 ponies out of 2.9L twin-turbocharged V6 mill. The GTS and Turbo models utilize a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with either 453 hp or 550 hp, while the hybrid units come in two additional flavors. The less powerful E-Hybrid units pair a 2.9L V6 unit with an electric motor for a combined 457 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrids produce as much as 677 hp and 626 lb-ft thanks to a 4.0L V8 engine paired with a 134-hp electric motor and a 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Of course, all power figures could easily receive a bump thanks to new 48-volt mild-hybrid systems come MY 2021.
The facelifted 2021 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo should become available at some point in 2020 with prices largely reflecting those of current models. In other words, the flagship Porsche station wagon will cost you at least just shy of $100,000, while the most powerful hybrids warrant stickers close to $200,000.